Daily Archives: June 8, 2015

NASA to Build Eco-friendly, Supersonic Jets

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NEW YORK: The US space agency NASA said it is spending over $6 million to fund research into cheaper and greener supersonic travel, reported Quartz.

While modern fighter jets can fly faster than the speed of sound, the environmental impact is relatively small as not many fighter jets are in operation at a given time.

However, the impact on environment would be massive if commercial jets — and there are thousands of them zipping across the globe at any given time — start flying at supersonic speeds.

Supersonic engine burns more fuel than a traditional jet engine.

NASA said that supersonic jets also travel at higher altitudes than regular jets, closer to the stratosphere and have a greater potential to damage the ozone layer.

The agency has been engaged in developing the concepts with companies like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing since 2006 to make new generation of planes that get you places very quickly.

Another big concern is the noise that supersonic jets create, as anyone who has ever been near the Concorde’s flight path would tell you.

If supersonic jets are to become the norm, they must be a lot quieter, or one could go deaf.

NASA was quoted as saying by Quartz that it has already had some “pretty outstanding success” in past attempts to reduce the sound of supersonic booms.

They said that if all goes according to plan, it sees the first business jet-sized supersonic planes going into production by 2025 and commercial planes by 2030.

TNIE

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What Your Coffee Says About You

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Cappuccino-sippers of the world, unite! Your existence is under threat. This week it emerged that Starbucks – pan-galactic vendor of coffee-themed warm milk products to time-pressed urban professionals – has begun to phase out the cappuccino from its menus.

Once seen as the height of sophistication (in 1964, perhaps), the combination of espresso and foamed milk has failed to see off the competition from the latte, the flat white and the drip filter (the johnny-come-lately of the coffee world). The company confirmed that it had ceased to list the cappuccino in its heartlands of San Francisco, New York and Seattle (the site of the first Starbucks).

Where America goes in terms of chocolate sprinkles and almond milk, I’m afraid Britain usually follows – and it may only be a matter of time before Costa and Pret A Manger follow suit. We can only hope that mainland Europe holds out a little longer.

What did the cappuccino do to deserve this fate? According to one former Starbucks employee, it’s less a la mode than the stronger and more velveteen flat white and a lot fiddlier than the latte. Apparently, baristas have always struggled with the foam. Which is strange, because every single cafe employee in Italy can make them perfectly without feeling the need to call themselves “baristas”, either.

In truth, the cappuccino has only ever attained its full majesty in its homeland, where it is served in the morning (never after dinner!), in a nice china cup (never a paper beaker!) and remains a gossamer little treat.

According to Dr Ramani Durvasala, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and author of You Are WHY You Eat, cappuccino-drinkers will take the loss badly. She concluded in a no-doubt highly rigorous study last year those who order cappuccinos are “controlling” and “overly sensitive”. Unlike instant- coffee drinkers (“laid-back”), black-coffee imbibers (“purist”) and latte suckers (“neurotic”).

But observation at my local coffee emporium reveals it’s a little more complicated than that. You can tell a lot about someone by their relationship with their daily cup.

Skinny latte

The Diet Coke of the hot- beverage world and the default choice of the slightly harassed mother/career woman. It promises the maternal comfort of warm milk and a gentle caffeine bump, without the calories.

The joke is, of course, on them as the evidence now suggests that whole milk is less fattening than skimmed (it’s to do with the way sugar is absorbed, apparently). All those wasted years!

Regular latte

The choice of the well-respected man who will never rise beyond middle management. Once opted for the gingerbread version – a bit silly, really!

Soya flat white

The tell-tale sign of the lactose-intolerant, gluten-spurning orthorexic. If you do happen to suffer from any of these afflictions, the dignified order is black coffee.

Almond milk flat white

As above, but also has a large Instragram following, a line of yoga-wear and a bestselling cook book.

Erm… can I just have… a normal coffee…oh, fiddlesticks, what is it called these days?

You can hardly blame the upstanding pensioner for their moment of panic as the milk machines hiss and the time-pushed Eastern European workers hammer spent grounds from the espresso pods and fail to understand their order.

Unfortunately, “coffee” ceased to exist around 2003. What you’re after is “white filter” (a sort of brownish dishwater) or “white Americano” (espresso topped up with too much water).

Instant coffee

“Builders’ coffee” may be hard to find outside greasy spoons and church coffee mornings, but when a typical cup costs pounds 2.30 and involves someone writing your name on a paper cup in felt tip, there’s a lot to be said for a stimulant that can be prepared in five seconds for about 2p. A discreet kettle and a jar of Gold Blend is the choice of the deadline-surfer.

Mango frappuccino

If you are eight, fine. If you are any older, please examine your life priorities.

Double espresso

The choice of the intellectual sophisticate.

Single-estate drip-filtered

Coffee taken to the heights of purity… offset by the fact that it cost pounds 3.95, takes years and will come served with east London attitude.

Cold press with butter

This is actually a thing. Future historians will draw terrible conclusions from this.

Decaff

You don’t get out much, do you?

Short cappuccino

Starbucks promises that you can still get a cappuccino if you really want one. You just have to go off menu. The same principle applies if you want to order a small coffee. The listed sizes are “grande” (big), “medio” (too big) and “venti” (way too big). Clever people order “short”. It costs less and is perfectly sufficient.

Meanwhile, as the fashionable bits of every city are overrun by identikit indie coffee joints staffed by Australian hipsters, Starbucks itself starts to feel like a sane, even faintly subversive option.

The “short cappuccino” thus paradoxically is the most sophisticated thing you can possibly order. So the cycle begins again.

TNIE

McAfee: Invasion Of Our Privacy Is An Insidious, Creeping Insanity

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John McAfee says that governments around the world must change their way of thinking if we’re ever to have privacy and security

Controversial tech boss John McAfee has lashed out at government agencies around the globe for forcing IT software makers to create backdoors in their solutions that allow them to spy on users of the products.

The founder of antivirus firm McAfee, who in 2012 was sought by police in Belize in connection with the murder of his neighbour, said the world’s political climate is changing, and is having a negative influence on IT security.

Strong influence

Speaking at InfoSecurity Europe 2015, he said: “It influences the way we design our security products. It influences the way the hackers plan to hack into the things we want them to stay away from.

“Among other things, it’s led to the creation of backdoors into software – this is something that cannot stand.”

“We cannot allow a fearful government or institution to create weaknesses in the very software we’re trying to protect. People are human. If there is a backdoor it’s likely that the backdoor will become available to hackers. Nobody’s perfect.”

If a backdoor does exist in a piece of software, them someone will know about it, making them a “weak link”, McAfee explained.

“Someone has to know that there is a backdoor – the programmer, the owner of the company, the government agency that has access. At some point one of the people in this chain is going to find themselves in a situation where they’re about to lose their house or their job, or they’ll owe a lot of money. That person then becomes the weak link in the chain.

“Or if someone doesn’t get the raise they expected or their’ employment review doesn’t go as well as they thought it would , they can get ticked off and become the weak link. We’re human.”

The reason we have software is to prevent the mistakes that we make, he added.

“So why are we creating software then giving out information to humans that are the weak link in the chain, so that humans can monitor us? We didn’t create a government to tell us what to do or what to think or to watch over us. We created a government to serve us, to build roads and school, the things we need. Not to say ‘you might be the enemy’.”

If someone is treating you like the enemy, maybe you are the enemy to them, he warned.

“This is something we need to think about. Do you want a government that looks at you like the potential problem? They think ‘we want to see what you’re doing so they can be sure you’re not going to do something wrong’.

“Something is wrong with this thinking. It’s an insanity – a very insidious, creeping insanity that must stop if we’re to ever have any sort of security or privacy, especially in our information sector.”

TWE

Deutsche Bank chiefs quit after rate-fixing and cover-up scandals

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The veteran British banker John Cryan is to replace Anshu Jain as co-chief executive of Deutsche Bank after the shock resignation of the German giant’s joint chief executives this weekend.

Germany’s biggest bank announced the Mr Cryan, who helped to turn around the Swiss bank UBS, would take over from Mr Jain on 1 July after its supervisory board held an emergency meeting in Frankfurt on Sunday.

Jürgen Fitschen, Deutsche’s other co-chief executive, will stay on until the bank’s next annual meeting in May 2016, when Mr Cryan will become the sole boss.

The announcement comes just weeks after US and UK regulators fined Deutsche a record $2.5bn (£1.7bn) for rigging benchmark interest rates, including Libor, and slammed the bank for trying to cover up the offences.

The City watchdog’s Georgina Philippou condemned Deutsche for “repeatedly misleading us” during the Libor investigations, while US regulators demanded that seven staff, six of whom were still working in Deutsche’s London-based investment bank, be fired.

Mr Jain, an Indian-born Briton, joined Deutsche in 1995 and built up the London investment bank – known inside the German bank as “Anshu’s army” – before he became co-chief executive in 2012.

But though he accepted responsibility as the man in charge when Deutsche’s investment bankers were fiddling the benchmark rates, even after the record fine in April Mr Jain insisted he would not be resigning.

Deutsche has always said its senior management did not know what the traders were doing. The bank attempted to placate investors at the end of last month by announcing a boardroom shake-up that put Mr Jain in charge of shrinking its investment bank, selling off its retail Postbank business and cutting €4.7bn (£3.4bn) off costs.

The move, however, was not enough to silence all of its increasingly concerned shareholders, and only 69 per cent of investors endorsed the performance of Deutsche’s two ceos at its annual meeting on 21 May.

Just days later the bank announced that it had also paid $55m to the Wall Street regulator to settle – without confirming or denying – allegations that it hid paper losses of more than $1.5bn during the financial crisis.

And this weekend it emerged that Deutsche is investigating whether $6bn-worth of trades by its Russian clients, involving its London and Moscow offices, breached anti-money laundering rules.

Mr Fitschen, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a lengthy German court case that means he has to attend a criminal court in Munich once a week.

Prosecutors allege that former Deutsche executives – including Mr Fitschen –gave misleading evidence in a civil suit connected to the collapse of the German media giant Kirch Group in 2002. Mr Fitschen denies the charges.

Mr Cryan, who has been on Deutsche’s supervisory board since 2013, yesterday said he was looking forward to the task ahead. “Our future will be defined by how well we deliver on strategy, impress clients and reduce complexity,” he added.

Analysts said that Mr Cryan now needs to review Deutsche’s latest strategic plan, which was unveiled just ahead of the annual meeting last month.

“A lot of detail is still needed on it,” Chris Wheeler, at Atlantic Equities, told Reuters yesterday. “It’s a massive job still to do. It’s one of the world’s biggest investment banks and Germany’s national champion.”

TI

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